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Ideas for constructing a predator-proof and winterized coop for 4-6 standard hens...

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

Hello Poultry People!

 

We are going to jump into chickens this year and are trying to get as far ahead of the learning curve as possible. We live on a very hilly lot in the mountains, and we get good sun all year. We are trying to build a decent sized (for 4-6 hens) coop that is fully-enclosed. We have bear, fox, raccoons and other critters to deal with, so we are thinking hardware cloth on all sides. I am also thinking the nest box/egg access needs to be INSIDE the coop, and the coop will need a door with a secure latching mechanism.

 

I'm not sure we're looking to electrify (with insulators) the coop, but...

 

Our big concerns are non-chickens getting in to eggs or real chickens, destroying the coop and keeping the girls warm in what can be pretty frigid weather.

 

So... I turn to you all for brainstorming ideas.

 

We're thinking a 10' long run with a 4' short side, maybe 6' tall (to allow human acces) and inside that have the raised nesting box and roosts. The trick is to get a droppings-tray for removal of messy stuff but not weaken the structure. And also to give them adequate ventilation but not so much that they get cold (swing doors that can be shut on a few of them in colder weather?). I'm not sure about heat lamps during nights/cold months, but those aren't out of the question, either.

 

Ideas? Thoughts??

post #2 of 5

I grew up near Steamboat Spring, CO. Since the mountains has such a dry climate, the chickens just need good shelter from the wind and they will do fine. Try to have chickens that do not have large upright combs. Keeping snow out of the runs would be needed since most high elevation have deep snow pack in the winter. You don't want to have to shovel snow out a run. As far as anything being bear proof, well all I can say is I haven't seen anything that will stop a determined bear. We had problems with bears with our sheep, but they never bother the chickens.

I use this type of setup, it will take a good snow load, stands up well to wind, can be covered and will keep most predators out.

http://www.backyardchickens.com/t/634989/long-portable-runs-why-i-needed-one-long-and-picture-heavy#post_8521974

post #3 of 5

450

 

450

 

 

 

Here is our setup. it is 4' x 8' OD 2 x 4 and osb framed.  It is insulated but I'm not sure that's needed.  the run is 15' x 25'.  the run door is open all the time except when the temps are below 0*F then we cover it with cardboard.  We have 5 birds and they seemed to have fared just fine.  They are all 10 months old and we've gotten 3-4 eggs aday all winter.  I decided to make the feeding box because I don't like the waste and mess caused by a floor feeder. We change the water pan out AM and PM  because it freezes and I haven't figured out my nipple waterer yet.  Using a poop tray under the roost saves allot of cleaning of the floor and makes collecting poop easier for the garden.  I put a false ceiling in for the winter to keep the wind out.  What surprises me the most is that  I never find poop in the nesting box.  The only time that our eggs were ever dirty was after the blizzard and abunch of snow got in the nest and got the hay wet.

 

 

700

 

 

450

 

 

post #4 of 5
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the ideas! Because of our hilly property and the 'incognito' aspect of our small (4-6 hens) flock, and the winter, and the predators, I am currently thinking something like this... I like the bottom trap door aspect if we're away for a weekend so they can still get some air and exercise, and I like the safely enclosed run. I may invest in portable fencing to let them out during the day when I can supervise them in the yard (and keep wily predators on land and air away from them)....

 

What do you all think?

 

http://thetanglednest.com/2010/02/our-urban-chicken-coop-plan/

 

post #5 of 5

My chicken yard that surrounds the coop is chain link fencing...reclaimed dog kennels. Prior to erecting the panels, I laid 3 ft horse / hog wire flat on the ground,,,then placed the chain link panels squarely in the middle of the wire on the ground. I covered the wire with dirt on the inside...and placed rocks on the outside. Now it is completely varmint proof. Nothing will be able to dig under the fence panels.  I also have wire netting stretched over the top of the pen to keep out flying predators. Hardware cloth wont always keep out determined varmints......p.s.  used dog pen / kennels are available on Craigslist...cheap. 

Chicken Addiction caused me to have 34 hens of various breeds: Marans, Wyandottes, Ameracanas, Barnvelders, Leghorn, Golden Duckwing, Plymouth Rock, New Hampshires, Welsummers, and on and on....great hobby. If they have pretty feathers, they are mine!!!  My wife formerly hated chickens...now she devotes most of her day to caring for them...what a wonderful woman.

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Chicken Addiction caused me to have 34 hens of various breeds: Marans, Wyandottes, Ameracanas, Barnvelders, Leghorn, Golden Duckwing, Plymouth Rock, New Hampshires, Welsummers, and on and on....great hobby. If they have pretty feathers, they are mine!!!  My wife formerly hated chickens...now she devotes most of her day to caring for them...what a wonderful woman.

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